Here's a shocker: an unnamed company has posted a Craigslist ad soliciting Yelpers to post fake reviews for pay.
Here's the text of the ad itself (which is still up as I'm writing this):
We are looking for Yelpers who are interested in making money part time working from home publishing Yelp Reviews we receive from our client's customers as testimonials!
Forward you the business page
Forward the comments
Forward you the pictures.
AND PAY YOU THROUGH PAYPAL!
All you have to do is copy the comments and place a 5 star review for the businesses we ask you to place the review for- and that's it!
You get paid for each review we send you and place that becomes recommended and not filtered.
You might read that and say "well, if they're comments from the restaurant's actual customers" — stop. Stop that. Of course they're not comments from the restaurant's actual customers. If they were, the actual customers themselves could and would go leave them on Yelp (where the fuck are they supposedly being left in the meantime? Customer comment cards?). If you don't think this company, whoever the hell they are, is making up reviews and getting people to shill for them, I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn. If you needed more evidence that they're is paying people to post fake Yelp reviews, how about the fact that they're very careful (both on that ad and in the google document application) not to mention who the hell they even are?
Yelp's slogan, remember, is "Real People. Real Reviews." It bills itself as some impartial dispenser of truth, never mind the fact that they relentlessly solicit restaurants to "advertise" on their site in order to improve their star rating, which is basically the internet equivalent of a guy named Tony "The Pancreas" Mascoliano walking into a bar and going "Hey, nice place you got here. Be a shame if something happened to it." Given their standard, corrupt method of operation, it's in no way surprising that another company is trying to circumvent the middleman.
Ultimately, this is just one more reason to never trust Yelp, as if you needed another one.
Update: Turns out, these fake reviews are actually illegal. So...yeah.